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Do you ever experience anxiety when your with your kids? I would imagine that most mamas (and dads) do from time to time. As a mom with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), I experience many moments of anxiety on and off throughout the day. I often feel like a cave woman in fight or flight mode who has to protect her kids from danger. It’s a very odd thing to feel this way in your brain, but then realize that in reality nothing threatening is actually happening.
This is the nature of GAD (along with symptoms like: sleep issues, irritability, difficulty focusing, muscle tension, restlessness, or fatiguing easily).
I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember and was lucky enough to have a mom who is also a counselor. She taught me ways to calm myself as a child and helped me find a good psychologist in high school when I needed extra support. I majored in Family Therapy in my undergrad, which gave me a deeper understanding of mental health issues and taught me more ways to manage my anxiety.
As a first-time mom 8 years ago, my anxious feelings turned into the perfect storm of baby blues mixed with the postpartum hormonal roller coaster and the added pressure I put on myself to be the perfect mom. At this time, I was pursuing my graduate degree in Speech Therapy, which added to the stress.
I tried to ignore the increased anxiety and push through the feelings, but this often lead me to being on the verge of a panic attack. This wasn’t a sustainable way to live and over the years I have learned the importance of incorporating practices into my life that give me the ability to calm down when I’m with my kids (and when I’m alone), so the anxiety doesn’t derail me from being the best mom I can be.
When I’m feeling calmer, it is much easier to navigate the demands of parenthood.
I want my kids to know that everyone struggles with anxiety sometimes and that they can always express their feelings to me when they’re stressed. They see me using strategies throughout the day and they know that sometimes mommy doesn’t feel calm and has to help herself calm down.
I used to wonder if I should talk to my kids about my anxiety, but I feel that it is more beneficial to them and to myself if I’m honest about my struggles (to a certain degree of course) and show them how I work through these feelings. We all struggle with something. For me, the more I own myself and work with what I was given, the more empowered I feel. I want my kids to know that they can overcome anything!
There are days that it feels like my anxiety might overpower my ability to calm myself and I’ve learned that this is part of having an anxiety disorder.
I have realized that trying different strategies to calm myself (even when it feels like nothing will help) is always worth it and most of the time I can find something that helps lessen that intense feeling of fight or flight. On days where most of my strategies don’t work, I remind myself that tomorrow is another day. We all have off days and off moments because we are human. As I have opened up and shared about my anxiety, I have realized that so many moms have anxiety. I feel so lucky to have friends and family I can talk to about anxiety and I always want my friends to feel like they can come to me for support too.
I do see a therapist and am on medication for my anxiety. This is another thing I’ve struggled with sharing because of the stigma attached to taking medication. I have gone off here and there but it improves the quality of my life at this point by taking the edge off of my anxiety, which in turn makes me a better and more present mom. Therapy and medication are such a personal decision and I am not recommending this for anyone else. You have to do what works best for you and working with a mental health professional is the best way to go if you experience high levels of anxiety frequently.
If you are experiencing anxiety or other mental health issues, always consult with a mental health professional to determine what type of treatment is right for you.
Many of the calming tips below are great for mamas and kids too. My sister created the adorable picture in the pinnable image below. Isn’t it cute?
Hope these tips give you much-needed moments of zen during your busy day with (or without) your kiddos! Feel free to click on the links highlighted in purple for more info and/or product ideas! Thanks for your support!
Here’s the full list of calming tips:
1. Take three deep breaths while imagining a peaceful scene in nature
2. Breathe in or apply a relaxation essential oil blend
3. Spray on a facial mist or water mixed with a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle
4. Hold a crystal or other object that makes you feel peaceful and take a deep breath
5. Massage your third eye gently (between your eyebrows, a Chinese acupressure point)
6. Microwave a rice pack, use a heating pad, or warm a wash cloth to place on your neck for a few minutes
7. Apply a face mask before you give the kids a bath and rinse it off after you’re done
8. Search for a “spa music” playlist on YouTube or Spotify
9. Gently rub or apply essential oil to your temples
10. Drink a glass of “spa” water infused with lemon or other fruit
11. Roll out tension on a foam roller or tennis ball (avoid your lower back area)
12. Diffuse an essential oil relaxation blend in an oil diffuser
13. Smell a freshly cut lemon, orange, or flowers for a quick pick me up
14. Refresh your skin by applying a naturally scented face oil
15. Lie on the floor on your back and take 5 deep breaths
16. Have a cup of warm herbal tea or lemon water with honey
17. Light a candle
18. Rub on an essential oil calming balm
19. Have a piece of dark chocolate (high in magnesium).
20. Snuggle with your kids or give them a hug 🙂
Bonus tip: If all else fails and you just need a minute to decompress, set up an independent activity for your kids (if they are old enough) or let them watch tv, play on the i pad, or something else that keeps them busy and do something that calms you for a few minutes. Remember that when mama’s calm, it benefits the whole family!
What are your favorite ways to destress when you’re with your kids?
(Disclaimer: always consult with a doctor before you or your children engage in any of the above activities as they might not be appropriate for everyone. )